Smallpox blog
Class Recap

Word History: The Origins of the Smallpox Vaccine

On Wednesday night, we got a crash course in how our bodies recognize harmful invaders and fend them off. Neat, right? Our immune systems are well-trained armies that can spot foreign bacteria and viruses -- and even remember them for later.

Class reminded me of one of my favorite stories of where a word comes from: the history of the word vaccine.

Back in the day, lots of people died from the disfiguring diease smallpox. These days, we...

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Class Recap

Artificial vs. Natural: When Flavors Collide (An MSG Recap!)

Tuesday night was Masters of Social Gastronomy: The Flavor Battles. Vanilla extract and Ceylon cinnamon squared off against artificial vanilla and ersatz cinnamon (née cassia) in snickerdoodle form: but which cookie took the cake?

First, a bit of history.



Vanilla is an orchid and, in the tradition of orchids, is quite tempermental. It refused to grow anywhere but its native Mexican soil thanks to the presence of a specific...

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Blog Post

Strawberry Secrets: Artificial vs. Natural Flavor Smackdown

If you haven't read Fast Food Nation, I'll go ahead and recommend it. You probably know what it's about, so I won't waste your time explaining!

In doing some research for the artificial vs. natural flavoring Masters of Social Gastronomy, I came across a pretty fun excerpt about what makes fast food so tasty:

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients:...

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Blog Post

What makes Atomic Fireballs candy so spicy?

I've been doing a lot of "candy science" research in preparation for next month's Masters of Social Gastronomy, and being in love with spicy flavors, Atomic Fireballs were on the top of my list.

Atomic Fireballs were brought to us by the Ferrara Pan Candy Company, which is the best candy company because they also invented Lemonheads. If you make a super spicy candy and a super sour candy you're aces in my book.

Fireballs were...

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Blog Post

Japanese TV: Don't stop the microbes

I've been on a fermenting rice kick recently (which you'll only see the results of when the experiments are all done), and this morning came across Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture. Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture follows the adventures of Tadayasu Sawaki, a first-year college student at an agricultural university.

What a boring dude, right? Totally wrong! He can see microorganisms. Whether it's food poisoning, sake brewing, or...

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